Brazil's Supreme Court Votes to Criminalize Homophobia

Judgement began in February and concluded this Thursday (13)

Ricardo Della Coletta
Brasília

Brazil's Supreme Court (STF) ruled on Thursday (13) that the racism crime law should be applied to homophobia and transphobia until Congress approves legislation on the subject.

The trial began in February and concluded on Thursday when five Supreme justices voted.

The majority in favor of criminalizing homophobia and transphobia had already been formed on 23 May. This Thursday, the vote ended in 8 to 3 in favor of likening homophobia to racism, which is illegal in Brazil.

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Justices Edson Fachin, Rosa Weber, Cármen Lúcia and Celso de Melo, during the trial in February . (Foto: Fátima Meira/Futura Press/Folhapress) - Futura Press/Folhapress

Court President Dias Toffoli and Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, who voted against criminalizing homophobia, stated that they think it is Congress' responsibility to criminalize a specific behavior.

Marco Aurélio Mello, one of the three who voted against the criminalization, said that the Supreme Court could not establish laws that the Legislature has omitted.

Minister Celso de Mello, the rapporteur for one of the filings, said the Supreme Court ruling on Thursday "does not interfere with or compromise religious freedom."

In this sense, freedom is guaranteed for religious leaders to be able to argue in their worship that homosexual behavior does not agree with their beliefs. "Provided that such manifestations do not constitute hate speech, or incite discrimination, hostility or violence against people because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity,"  the Justice said.

On Thursday, Minister Carmen Lúcia defended the criminalization of homophobia and cited cases of violence against the LGBT population.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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